Don’t Waste Your Money: Name brands vs. store brands

Posted at 5:42 PM, Oct 21, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-21 17:42:40-04

In the supermarket, you’ll find more store brands than ever. In fact one in four products on the shelf these days is a store brand. Consumer Reports just taste-tested 57 store-brand foods from five major retailers—Costco, Kmart, Sam’s Club, Target, and Walmart, plus Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.

It turns out that 33 of the 57 store brands proved as high in quality as the national brands. When Consumer Reports evaluates a store brand and says it’s as good as a national brand, that doesn’t mean it’s a dead ringer in terms of the flavor. The fact is products can be equally high in quality but maybe the store brand has different seasonings or spices.

However, Target’s Market Pantry Ketchup tasted similar to Heinz. The mayonnaise from Costco, Target, Walmart, and Whole Foods, though different from Hellmann’s, was just as good in quality. And listen up, all you die-hard Breyers ice cream fans. Walmart’s Great Value Vanilla ice cream came pretty close to Breyers. And it costs a third less!

When it comes to nuts, store brands are the way to go. Consumer Reports’ taste tests of cashews showed that all seven of the store brands were actually better than the national brand Emerald. Considering that many stores will refund your money if you don’t like a store brand, what do you have to lose, and you could save plenty.

Interesting to note, store brands are not always a bargain. Consumer Reports found five of the ten store brands from Whole Foods actually cost more than the national brand.